Utila Bay Island – Monograph by Edward S. Rose


Utila Island lies in a position Northeasterly-Southwesterly twenty miles N.N.W, from the port of La Ceiba on the North coast of Honduras, Central America; on the chart it is 7-1/2 miles long and two miles wide. The beaches and shoreline form the outer rim of volcanic craters around the island; (foreigners say it is of volcanic origin), if so, this writer, from close observation, locates four craters connected by prominent veins.

As per my knowledge there has not been written one line on this subject of the Island; it is thought universally that the island is one solid mass, but on its shoreline are many isles and islets, some have no particular names, but are known as Du Barry at the West End, etc.

We will itemize them beginning from the South Point of the West End on the island’s South side, working East. It was not the writer’s intention to include any history pertaining to these small spots, but rather than being lost in history, will make a record at the end of each description.

No.1 Island. A swamp known as Gussy’s swamp splits the West End side of the Island and runs in the sea; No.1 Island begins at this swamp, trends South on its West side, rounds the Point, runs East on its South side to Mangrove Bight; it is two thirds of a mile long, one hundred meters wide, about four feet elevation above sea-level; bounded North by swamp and bog. East by Mangrove Bight; South and West by water of the Harbor at West End; it is known as West End (at its east end bordering on Mangrove Bight is Gibson Bay and Gibson Point); at its West end and South side a white-sand grassy bar extending out 150 to 200 meters wide to two feet of water; this Island is sandy.

Mangrove Bight is swamp one half mile long which runs in the sea, sea runs in the swamp over a white sand grassy bar where would be the beach; it’s in between No.l Island, and No.2 Island, which is Johnathan point.

Through Mangrove Bight, Mr. Elijah Cooper, Cays, dug a canal to the Santa Maria Ridge, one half mile long, 8 feet wide, 4 feet deep; it was dug in the 1930’s. In 1974, it was 22 ft. wide, 10 and 12 feet deep, and out of use, with red mangrove trees shooting their roots in it. The sand grassy bar continues in like manner from No.l Island In front of Mangrove Bight.

(History follows at end of the monograph of Utila Island.)

This swamp trends from Gussy’s swamp at the West End, without a break, to Big Bight at the East End of the island, distance 7-1/2 miles long, and two miles wide from South side to North side of the Island.

No.2 Island is Johnathan Point; Mangrove Bight swamp-bog continues in back of No.2 Island to Mud Hole swamp, which borders on the east side of No.2 Island and runs into the sea. Johnathan Point is a peninsula; its west side is about 1/2 mile long, from its point, north to Mangrove Bight, washed by water of harbor; east side from Point, north to Mud Hole, two hundred meters, washed by water of harbor; the shallow sandy bar continues, in like manners to Mud Hole.

No.1 and No.2 Island are coconut plantations. Mud Hole is useless swamp; at swamp-sea edge about two hundred fifty meters long.

One hundred meters off shore south of Mud Hole is No.1 Islet. Bordering on Mud Hole’s east end is No.3 Island.

But – First: This monograph continues along and around the outer edge of the supposed volcanic craters; from my personal observation, and according to the lay of the land, there are four craters, two at West Lagoon connected by a vein, and two miles east at East Lagoon are two craters connected by a vein, these two sets of craters, two miles apart are also connected by a vein from West Lagoon to East Lagoon. These craters include three quarters (3/4) or more of the Island’s area in swamp and bog.

No.3 Island continues. Its west end borders on Mud Hole’s east end and extends to the west corner of mouth of West (Lower) Lagoon, a distance of three (3) miles; width: from twenty five (25) yards to one hundred fifty (150) yards; elevation from eight to twenty feet above sea level; very fertile, it has produced limes, mangoes, pears, breadfruit, sweet lemons, mammies, oranges, cassava, plantains and bananas; planted all over in coconuts; it has no particular name, but is known by its many plot owners.

Names of plots on No.3 Island working east, in order are: Its west end bordering on Mud Hole is Jim’s Bay and Jim’s Bay Point; Joshoah Bay and Joshua Point; Bodden’s Cocal; Upper Garden or Joseph Cooper’s Cocal; Horatio’s Cocal or Horatio’s rocks; Jack O’Neil Bight and Jack O’Neil Point; Little Bight and Little Bight Point; Pretty Bush and Pretty Bush Point; West corner of entrance to West Lagoon.

Boundaries: West, by Mud Hole; North by Crater’s Swamp, West Lagoon Swamp-Bog and West Lagoon; East and South by the sea.

A shallow rocky reef bar to two feet of water from 25 to 30 yards wide from the beach extending its length, 3 miles, with exception of Jack O’Neil and Little Bights.

A return to the east end of Mud Hole and complete this S.W. corner of the Island.

Here on two offshore reefs are two ranges of Cays; the south reef starts from east end of Mud Hole, about 400 meters across, and trends West by South a distance of one and one third (1- 1/3) miles.

distance of two miles.

On the end of the south reef, east end, facing Mud Hole, is Diamond Cay, more than one acre in area, uninhabited, planted in coconuts, elevation: eight (8) feet above sea level; two hundred meters from Suc Suc Cay; the Cays follow in order:

Suc Suc Cay No.2 on the Range, more than three acres in area; densly populated;

Pigeon Cay (or Howell Cay) is No.3; three acres in area; densly populated;

Jack O’Neil Cay, is No.4
Bell Cay, No.5
Water Cay, No.6
Morgan Cay, No. 7

Little Cay – south from Morgan Cay, No.8, at west end of South Range.

On the end of West End reef’s north end, facing on West End Point, 400 meters across, is Ragged Cay, No.9; area one fifth (1/5) acre;

Midway between its two ends, North and South, is Sandy Cay, No.10; its position on the reef is: east side – edge of reef, at west side- edge of harbor; about an acre in area and sandy;elevation 5 feet above sea level;

At the south end of reef is South West Cay, No.11; area about two (2) acres; elevation above sea level, 5 feet.

In between No.2 and No.3 Cays on the shallow bar is Bush’s rock; area one fourth (1/4) acre.

There are eight Cays on the South Range and three Cays on the West Range; total eleven Cays. Some with a history (see history at end of Utila Island monograph).

Bordering on the Ranges of the Cay and S.W. corner of the Island is a spacious harbor; this harbor, known as West End Harbor, is equilateral in shape; more than two miles from Diamond Cay to South West Cay; same distance from Ragged Cay to South West Cay; same distance from Ragged Cay to Diamond Cay;

The harbor is divided in two sections by a shoal bar east of Jack O’Neil Cay;

Channnels: South of South West Cay, a channel leads to the harbor; it runs between Sandy Cay and Morgan Cay into the harbor and out through Jack O’Neil Cay channel, and visa versa; at east end of harbor are also two channels; one between Diamond Cay and the Old Bank and one between Old Bank and Jim’s Bay; these two channels converge at inside edge of harbor.

Return to No. 3 Island. On the shallow bar, east from Joshua Point was:

No. 2 Islet; twenty feet from the beach, four feet elevation above sea level land four feet diameter; it was a circular iron-shore rock; 1941 hurricane washed it away.

No. 4 Island is Lindsay Bay; this island borders north of No. 3 Island at its east end; area, two acres; bounded South at east end of No. 3 Island, swamp and water of West Lagoon in between; east by West Lagoon channel; north and west by West Lagoon.

At the west corner of the mouth of West Lagoon entrance was a small area of swamp in the rocky shoreline with white and black mangrove trees growing; (in fact the lagoon swamp and trees connected or extended to this corner of mouth but the first settlers opened a pathway through it).

The water from the sea at high tide gave it an overflow; water from lagoon constantly trickled through; it is a streak about five (5) yards wide; touches of hurricanes within the last twenty years have destroyed this small area of mangrove trees.

No.5 Island: Its west end is washed by water of east bank of West Lagoon; north side and east end washed by West Lagoon; south side washed by water of East Harbor. It is one mile long, and from twenty five yards to one hundred yards wide; elevation above sea level at George Hill, 8 feet; other portion four feet above sea level. More or less, four hundred (400) meters of sea and lagoon waters at beachline separated No.5 Island from No.6 Island; Lagoon swamp and mangrove trees occupied this 400 meter space and is still visible along its route.

At east corner of mouth of West Lagoon, also is a very much larger area of red mangrove bush; this, more or less, on the beach line, is one hundred meters long; 15 or 20 meters wide, hurricanes have produced no effect on it.

Note: Mangrove Bush is a low bushy clump of roots and small branches; Mangrove trees are trees.

This clump of Mangrove Bush, above, was the only mangroves growing on the harbor or south side of No.5 Island; having no sign of mud or swamp, a white sand grassy bar runs its length.

No.6 Island: This island is one mile square and is the site of where stands the town of Utila. (Continues after next paragraph.)

West Lagoon water and swamp runs in the sea of East Harbor from East end of No.5 to South West corner of No.6, a distance of 400 meters.

The writer of this monograph thinks he can do a better job by including the history after each island, etc. So.

When the families at the Cays decided to remove from the Cays to higher and more spacious ground, their choice was East Harbor. East harbor comprises all water from West Lagoon to East Lagoon, a distance of two (2) miles with width eleven hundred meters from mouth of channel to beach. The hill from S.W. corner of No.5 Island is from 40 ft. to 50 ft. elevation above sea level.

From East End of No.5 Island, the swamp ran out into the sea from 20 yards to 40 yards wide; after the road was built connecting No.5 and No.6 Islands, the swamp bottom, harbor side of road, remains to be seen; this swamp extended and still extends one and one quarter (1-1/4) miles to East Lagoon.

The west end of No.6 Island is the Chapel Hill, which includes a distance of 400 meters from its S.W. corner, East, to Middle Path Road where a fall of twenty (20) feet wide separates it from the Hill. The precipitous wall of the Chapel Hill was washed by this swamp, as above.

On No.5 Island, the removed settlers from the Cays erected their homes; homes were erected at length. Houses were standing with a few feet over the water on harbor side.

Names of first families removing: George Hill; Stephan Wood; these two settled at George Hill Bay; Joseph Bodden, John Brown; Simeon Hill; James D. Cooper; Thomas Greenwood; Eden Bodden, at Chepa’s; Archilous Howell, now Van Buren’s; Henry Cooper, now Joe Cash Bodden’s; Stephen Wood, removed from West end of No.5 Island, at George Hill Bay to its east end; later others settled: Names: Edmund Roulet, a Frenchman; Capt. Amasa Nickerson, an American; James D. Cooper, returned to the Cays and Samuel (Sam) Cooper, his son rented his house; Annie Bodden, sister of Joe Cash Bodden; Benjamin Brown, son of John Brown, a German from Danzig, Germany; Archilous Howell returned to the Cays and Mr. Van Buren, from Cayman Island, bought his home; Henry Cooper, the founders Joseph Cooper’s son, removed to his sister’s, Francis (Fanny) Bodden, island of Morat at East End of Roatan Island, and Joe Cash Bodden bought his house; Beauford Bush occupied Stephen Wood’s house after Wood removed to Armenia on the north coast of Honduras; David Wood, son of Stephen Wood, at extreme east end of No.5 Island; David Wood removed to the Hill at No.6 Island and Eddie Sanchez, an American, after his marriage to Avis, one of Mr. Beauford’s daughters, erected his home in place of Mr. David Wood’s; Woodville Bodden erected his home on No.5 Island, on harbor side, in front of his brother’s Van Buren, shortly after removed to No.6 Island on the Colo Mico Road; Mr. Eddie Sanchez was the last to build his home on No.5 Island in 1900-1901.

Mr. Tom Hinds bought Mr. Brown’s house and moved it to its present location. Year 1974, there is not one home standing on No. 5 Island which the first settlers built.

The first boat built on the island was the schooner R.E. Hill, at the George Hill Bay on No. 5 Island, by George Hill and sons; Eddie Ramon bought Stephen Wood’s house, and Thomas Coban bought Stephen Wood’s lot including Sanchez’ and there built his home. There are three homes only on No. 5 Island: Thomas Coban and his son at extreme east end and Vera Bennet next to Van Buren’s; year 1974. These three houses were built since 1940. No. 5 Island has no particular name but was known as George Hill; Brown’s; Amasa Nickerson’s; Mr. Buren’s; Joe Cash, etc.

At George Hill is, where Terence Morgan and Modesta Howell landed one Sunday Night, during service, with iron safe stolen from on board Motor Vessel “Kate Esau”; safe was broken, and four thousand pesos stolen; they were captured and confessed two nights after. It is also the site of where Laurie Bush landed after his accused killing of Charlie Simons by chopping off his head in 1909 – 1910. It is also the site that the Utila Baseball Team selected for its first practice, 1918 – 1920.

John Brown’s is where the first date tree was planted close to Lagoon’s edge; it grew a trunk to 12 or 15 feet tall; never produced a fruit. Here is where our first gourd tree was planted in Mr. Simeon Hill’s plot. Mr. Edmond Roulet also taught a class, English, in his spare time. Could be the first “fire-burn” as they called it: first home to burn, that of James D. Cooper, year 1880’s.

Families living on No. 5 had for conveyance to No. 6, dories (canoa) while visiting relatives and friends on No. 5 and vice versa. After a streak, a few feet wide, was filled up in the sea water and swamp to sea level, a board walk was made over it; for years after, the municipality filled up twenty five yards, two feet above sea level until the span was filled up, from No. 5 to No. 6 Islands and the boardwalk came to its end.

No. 6 Island has an area of one mile square of high rise, very fertile land, every inch of it; bounded: North by Lagoon Swamp; South by water of East harbor; East by East Lagoon Swamp, East Lagoon and East Lagoon swamp at East Harbor; West by West Lagoon and West Lagoon swamp with Uncle John canal in between.

On the Chapel Hill is where our first Chapel was built in 1870; removed to its present location on the beach in 1882; in the church yard at its west end, three are there buried; two children of Mr. and Mrs. James (Fanny) Bodden and Mr. Morse; after the Chapel was removed, the cemetery was abandoned an another was opened two hundred yards away at its North. We do not know the First laid to rest in this new cemetery, but it is thought to be Capt.Carrol Thompson and his wife Jane; these are buried at the west corner of the gate at wire-line. In this cemetery is buried: Walter Rose’s six week old baby, murdered by Bob McField, July 1st, 1905; and where Bob McField is buried after being hung a week later; he was buried midway between north and south corners, near wire-line west end of this cemetery. There was an Islet at the S.W. Corner of the Chapel Hill, between Chapel Hill and edge of swamp and sea at Theodore Howell and a clump of red mangroves at sealine at S.W. corner of Theodore Howell’s; the swamp at this point from the side of hill to edge of sea water was 25 yards wide.

Another Islet at Richard H. Rose; the home of Clarence A. Rose is erected over it; this Islet was also midway side of Chapel Hill and swamp – sea edge, with a clump of white mangrove trees growing at sea edge; the swamp at this point, midway length of Chapel Hill was thirty five (35) yards wide. Let us keep in memory this swamp from east end of No. 5 Island extends without a break to East Lagoon. On the harbor side and 40 feet from the side of the Methodist Church, was a large clump of red mangrove bush at swamp – sea edge. On harbor side and one hundred (100) feet from road, which was end of toe of the Hill, at St. Alfred Ave., at Tony Morgan’s was also a clump of white mangrove trees at sea – swamp’s edge. The road considered Main Street which runs through the town is where the swamp lapped side of Chapel Hill and toe of The Hill. First, the Main Road was the Chapel Hill Road and The Hill Road. After the Chapel, many families removed to “The Beach” (as they spoke of it) the road on the Beach became known as the Main Road.

No.6 Island: This island is one mile square and is the site of where stands the town of Utila. (Continues after next paragraph.)

West Lagoon water and swamp runs in the sea of East Harbor from East end of No.5 to South West corner of No.6, a distance of 400 meters.

The writer of this monograph thinks he can do a better job by including the history after each island, etc. So.

When the families at the Cays decided to remove from the Cays to higher and more spacious ground, their choice was East Harbor. East harbor comprises all water from West Lagoon to East Lagoon, a distance of two (2) miles with width eleven hundred meters from mouth of channel to beach. The hill from S.W. corner of No.5 Island is from 40 ft. to 50 ft. elevation above sea level.

From East End of No.5 Island, the swamp ran out into the sea from 20 yards to 40 yards wide; after the road was built connecting No.5 and No.6 Islands, the swamp bottom, harbor side of road, remains to be seen; this swamp extended and still extends one and one quarter (1-1/4) miles to East Lagoon.

The west end of No.6 Island is the Chapel Hill, which includes a distance of 400 meters from its S.W. corner, East, to Middle Path Road where a fall of twenty (20) feet wide separates it from the Hill. The precipitous wall of the Chapel Hill was washed by this swamp, as above.

On No.5 Island, the removed settlers from the Cays erected their homes; homes were erected at length. Houses were standing with a few feet over the water on harbor side.

Names of first families removing: George Hill; Stephan Wood; these two settled at George Hill Bay; Joseph Bodden, John Brown; Simeon Hill; James D. Cooper; Thomas Greenwood; Eden Bodden, at Chepa’s; Archilous Howell, now Van Buren’s; Henry Cooper, now Joe Cash Bodden’s; Stephen Wood, removed from West end of No.5 Island, at George Hill Bay to its east end; later others settled: Names: Edmund Roulet, a Frenchman; Capt. Amasa Nickerson, an American; James D. Cooper, returned to the Cays and Samuel (Sam) Cooper, his son rented his house; Annie Bodden, sister of Joe Cash Bodden; Benjamin Brown, son of John Brown, a German from Danzig, Germany; Archilous Howell returned to the Cays and Mr. Van Buren, from Cayman Island, bought his home; Henry Cooper, the founders Joseph Cooper’s son, removed to his sister’s, Francis (Fanny) Bodden, island of Morat at East End of Roatan Island, and Joe Cash Bodden bought his house; Beauford Bush occupied Stephen Wood’s house after Wood removed to Armenia on the north coast of Honduras; David Wood, son of Stephen Wood, at extreme east end of No.5 Island; David Wood removed to the Hill at No.6 Island and Eddie Sanchez, an American, after his marriage to Avis, one of Mr. Beauford’s daughters, erected his home in place of Mr. David Wood’s; Woodville Bodden erected his home on No.5 Island, on harbor side, in front of his brother’s Van Buren, shortly after removed to No.6 Island on the Colo Mico Road; Mr. Eddie Sanchez was the last to build his home on No.5 Island in 1900-1901.

Mr. Tom Hinds bought Mr. Brown’s house and moved it to its present location. Year 1974, there is not one home standing on No. 5 Island which the first settlers built.

The first boat built on the island was the schooner R.E. Hill, at the George Hill Bay on No. 5 Island, by George Hill and sons; Eddie Ramon bought Stephen Wood’s house, and Thomas Coban bought Stephen Wood’s lot including Sanchez’ and there built his home. There are three homes only on No. 5 Island: Thomas Coban and his son at extreme east end and Vera Bennet next to Van Buren’s; year 1974. These three houses were built since 1940. No. 5 Island has no particular name but was known as George Hill; Brown’s; Amasa Nickerson’s; Mr. Buren’s; Joe Cash, etc.

At George Hill is, where Terence Morgan and Modesta Howell landed one Sunday Night, during service, with iron safe stolen from on board Motor Vessel “Kate Esau”; safe was broken, and four thousand pesos stolen; they were captured and confessed two nights after. It is also the site of where Laurie Bush landed after his accused killing of Charlie Simons by chopping off his head in 1909 – 1910. It is also the site that the Utila Baseball Team selected for its first practice, 1918 – 1920.

John Brown’s is where the first date tree was planted close to Lagoon’s edge; it grew a trunk to 12 or 15 feet tall; never produced a fruit. Here is where our first gourd tree was planted in Mr. Simeon Hill’s plot. Mr. Edmond Roulet also taught a class, English, in his spare time. Could be the first “fire-burn” as they called it: first home to burn, that of James D. Cooper, year 1880’s.

Families living on No. 5 had for conveyance to No. 6, dories (canoa) while visiting relatives and friends on No. 5 and vice versa. After a streak, a few feet wide, was filled up in the sea water and swamp to sea level, a board walk was made over it; for years after, the municipality filled up twenty five yards, two feet above sea level until the span was filled up, from No. 5 to No. 6 Islands and the boardwalk came to its end.

No. 6 Island has an area of one mile square of high rise, very fertile land, every inch of it; bounded: North by Lagoon Swamp; South by water of East harbor; East by East Lagoon Swamp, East Lagoon and East Lagoon swamp at East Harbor; West by West Lagoon and West Lagoon swamp with Uncle John canal in between.

On the Chapel Hill is where our first Chapel was built in 1870; removed to its present location on the beach in 1882; in the church yard at its west end, three are there buried; two children of Mr. and Mrs. James (Fanny) Bodden and Mr. Morse; after the Chapel was removed, the cemetery was abandoned an another was opened two hundred yards away at its North. We do not know the First laid to rest in this new cemetery, but it is thought to be Capt.Carrol Thompson and his wife Jane; these are buried at the west corner of the gate at wire-line. In this cemetery is buried: Walter Rose’s six week old baby, murdered by Bob McField, July 1st, 1905; and where Bob McField is buried after being hung a week later; he was buried midway between north and south corners, near wire-line west end of this cemetery. There was an Islet at the S.W. Corner of the Chapel Hill, between Chapel Hill and edge of swamp and sea at Theodore Howell and a clump of red mangroves at sealine at S.W. corner of Theodore Howell’s; the swamp at this point from the side of hill to edge of sea water was 25 yards wide.


Another Islet at Richard H. Rose; the home of Clarence A. Rose is erected over it; this Islet was also midway side of Chapel Hill and swamp – sea edge, with a clump of white mangrove trees growing at sea edge; the swamp at this point, midway length of Chapel Hill was thirty five (35) yards wide. Let us keep in memory this swamp from east end of No. 5 Island extends without a break to East Lagoon. On the harbor side and 40 feet from the side of the Methodist Church, was a large clump of red mangrove bush at swamp – sea edge. On harbor side and one hundred (100) feet from road, which was end of toe of the Hill, at St. Alfred Ave., at Tony Morgan’s was also a clump of white mangrove trees at sea – swamp’s edge. The road considered Main Street which runs through the town is where the swamp lapped side of Chapel Hill and toe of The Hill. First, the Main Road was the Chapel Hill Road and The Hill Road. After the Chapel, many families removed to “The Beach” (as they spoke of it) the road on the Beach became known as the Main Road.

 

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